Sympathetic Oneness

A father and son were walking together, enjoying the early morning breeze. They had covered a good distance when all of a sudden the father said to the son, “Son, stop!”

The son said, “Father, has something happened? Is anything wrong?”

The father said, “Nothing in particular, but let us not walk any farther on this road.”

“Why not, Father?” asked the son.

“Do you see that elderly man coming toward us?” the father asked, pointing down the road.

“Yes, I can see him,” replied the son.

“That man is a friend of mine,” said the father. “He has borrowed some money from me and now he is unable to pay it back. Each time he sees me he tells me that he will get the money from somebody else and, without fail, will give it to me. This has been happening again and again, so I don’t want to embarrass him anymore.

The son said, “Father, if you don’t want to embarrass him, why don’t you tell him that you have given him the money and you will not take it back, that it is just a donation?”

“I have already told him that,” said the father. “When I said, ‘I don’t want it back; it is an offering,’ he got mad. He said, ‘Am I a beggar? I am your friend. When I was in need, you gave me money, and when I am no longer in need, I will give it back. I want to remain your friend and not a beggar.’ Now I don’t want to embarrass him, and I don’t want to be embarrassed myself. So let us quickly take another road and avoid him.”

The son said, “Father, you are really good and great. I am so proud of you. It is usually the one who owes the money who tries to avoid the person from whom he has borrowed it. In your case you are desperately trying to avoid this man, although you are the giver. It is usually the receiver who is embarrassed, not the giver. But you want to spare him the embarrassment. I am truly grateful to you and proud of you, Father. What I have learned from you is sympathetic oneness.”